Detroit debt

One dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

All eyes are on Detroit this week, following Tuesday’s historic ruling on Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy. For those living outside the city, it's easy to separate themselves from Detroit's problems. 

But many experts say Detroit is not alone.

Detroit is not Michigan's only city that faces enormous budget challenges. Unfunded liabilities and retiree debt are adding up all across our state.

Ted Roelofs, a contributing writer to Bridge Magazine, recently wrote a piece that argues that other cities in Michigan will not be immune to rising legacy costs that, in part, did Detroit in.

Roelofs and John Pottow, a bankruptcy expert at the University of Michigan, talk with us about the future of other Michigan cities in the wake of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit City Council has decided not to push an alternative to a $350 million loan designed to help the city pay off some of its massive pension debt.

Council members on Friday discussed the competing plan to the post-bankruptcy petition financial proposal engineered by state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

About $230 million from Barclays would be used to fully pay off a complicated pension debt deal involving two major creditors. The rest would be used to improve basic city services.

Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the proposal to consolidate school districts into county-wide systems, the canceled bus tour for Detroit creditors, and the new changes on the Detroit City Council.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

 Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has cancelled a planned bus tour for the city’s Wall Street creditors.

Some of those creditors are in Detroit this week to meet with Orr, and to take a look at some of the city’s assets.

The planned tour would have put the creditors on a city bus, and taken them for some pretty grim sightseeing.

It was meant to convince them that the city’s condition is dire, and bondholders should big accept losses on their Detroit debt.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

 The battle over control of Detroit’s two pension funds is heating up, with big consequences for city retirees and other creditors as the city creeps closer to possible bankruptcy.

Detroit has two pension funds: A general retirement system for most employees, and a separate system for the police and fire departments.

The dispute revolves around how well-funded both systems are. The exact number is key, because state law allows emergency managers to replace pension boards if a system is funded below 80%.

A Detroit mayoral candidate says a state financial review team vastly overstates the city’s debt burden—and their motives are political.

Lisa Howze, a former state representative and an accountant, says her own calculations show the city’s debt load is just a little over $2 billion.

In its report outlining Detroit’s financial emergency, the state review team put the number at closer to $15 billion. Their report is now in Governor Snyder’s hands as he decides whether to appoint an emergency manager for the city.

user Urban Adventures / Flickr

A recent report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan highlights a sometimes overlooked part of Detroit’s current fiscal crisis: the city’s debt and legacy costs.

According to the report, Detroit has about $14 billion in liabilities (though about $5.2 billion of that is for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and thus shared with its suburban customers).